The once seemingly bottomless well of economic riches has been running dry. Real Madrid and Barcelona must reduce their spending, and that means opportunities for other leading clubs in Spain. Indeed, we could be entering one of the most competitive periods in Spanish soccer, as the gap in power begins to close.
The financial struggles of Barcelona have been widely covered by the sports media. After winning the presidential elections earlier in 2021, Joan Laporta uncovered a ticking economic timebomb that was far worse than he initially feared. The reckless management of the previous board had left a massive deficit and huge debts.
Since then, Laporta has been forced into nothing short of a fire sale, offloading players for a fraction of their market value and in some cases, even for free, just to get them off the wage bill. At the same time, the Barcelona leader has focused on just one primary objective, which is to keep Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.
Regardless of Messi being the best soccer player on the face of the planet, the aging talent is arguably past his prime. In order to keep him at the club and pay his immense wages, several other high earners have been sacrificed, with potentially more heading out the exit door. This inevitably weakens the squad overall, which raises questions about the strengths of Barcelona ahead of the new season.
Although their financial situation is much healthier than that of Barcelona, the ‘Galactico’ era at Real Madrid is very much a thing of the past, for now. Having previously splashed out on some of the biggest transfer fees and wages in soccer, club supremo Florentino Perez must now trade with more caution.
Perez was left stunned by the backlash surrounding his proposals for a Super League, which would have featured the richest and most powerful clubs in Europe. When that idea collapsed like a house of cards, he was forced to face a new reality. Real Madrid must now spend within their means, economically unable to chase cash-rich clubs like Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.
After the departure of Sergio Ramos with his contract expired, every player is considered an expendable asset, open to offers. David Alaba was brought in on a free transfer, and that could indicate the newer, more frugal approach from Real Madrid. The biggest concern is that the core of the squad is aging and needs to be replaced, so this could be a team in transition for the next two or three seasons.
As the only club genuinely capable of challenging the ‘Big Two’ over the last decade, Atletico Madrid is best placed to take advantage of the economic woes of their biggest rivals. The side managed by Diego Simeone already did that last season, scooping up Luis Suarez on a free transfer from Barcelona, who couldn’t afford to keep the Uruguayan.
Of course, that loss for Barcelona turned out to be a massive gain for Atletico, as they ended up winning La Liga for the first time since 2013-14. Not without a large dose of irony, Luis Suarez proved to be the vital difference for his new club, finishing the 2020-21 campaign as their top scorer, along with earning his title medal.
That kind of shrewdness in the transfer market is perhaps what gives Atletico Madrid an important edge, heading into the 2021-22 La Liga season. The club is healthy financially and with no pressing need to sell players, which means their championship squad will remain largely intact. The capture of midfielder Rodrigo de Paul is another boost, which ensures that Atleti will remain a force to be reckoned with.
History often has a way of influencing the thoughts of oddsmakers, which certainly seems the case when looking at La Liga odds with leading sportsbooks. Most are firmly backing Real Madrid and Barcelona as joint favorites for the 2021-22 title, even though Atletico Madrid are the reigning champions and appear more stable financially.
Nevertheless, before throwing your money at the lengthier odds behind Atletico Madrid, attractive as they may seem at first glance, make sure you get the best value from online betting sites. Some of the best online betting sites offer promotions to attract new and existing customers, so check those out before laying down any bets.
Looking for value is important when it comes to betting, in the same way that soccer teams look for value when signing new players. Some offer enhanced accumulator and bet builder options, which can significantly increase winnings, which is always handy to know. Above all, makes sure the site you choose has great customer service and good reviews, as those go a long way towards enjoyable betting.